Local Music Check-in: We Are Star Children

Posted on September 24, 2014 by

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We Are Star Children is a local musical talent that is most definitely out of this world. With their original look and Adventure Pop sounds, this band does not mess around when they hit the stage.

Composed of a number of musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds, We Are Star Children has stayed busy in the local music scene, including their recent show at The Southern to the release of their latest album ‘With Arrows’. The band found the time to connect with Cville Niche to talk about their music and even their favorite places around Charlottesville.

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? 

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): Our members are from near and far, and in addition to keeping this Star Children ship in motion, we’ve all got “day jobs” as teachers and small business owners. Four of us have very young kids (infants, toddlers, elementary-age), so there’s a lot of orchestration going on all the time to balance our band, family, and professional lives.

Gene: I’m from upstate NY by way of Boulder, CO. I spent some time in Spain, a year in fact, building up enough spit to make it work in Charlottestille.

Minh (keyboards): I’m from the Lancaster, PA area, was in Santa Barbara for a bit, and I now run a hand-blown glassware company while fending off Gene’s advances, mostly.

Lewis (Bass): I grew up outside of Boston (North Shore) and moved down here when my wife started her PhD at UVa; I’m also a teacher at CHS; that’s where Gene and I met up. All of that is just to say that I am a 100% professional nerd.

Lauren (Vocals): I’m from near Pittsburgh originally, was wooed by the Blue Ridge by way of Innisfree Village and am co-owner of CVille Foodscapes, designing and installing ecological edible landscapes.

Aly (Trumpet): I was born and raised in Charlottesville, attended City Schools and the University of Virginia.  I have owned and managed a local house painting business, called Aly B. Painting for the past 14 years,  and I teach trumpet lessons to kids aged 7-18.  I am  a mom, a wife, a business owner, an athlete and a musician. I deeply relate to the Renaissance.

What are some of your favorite local spots: to catch live music? to grab a drink? to eat?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We’ve always had a great time hitting shows at the classic spots, of course (The Southern, The Jefferson, The Pavilion), and Jeyon Falsini’s been doing really great work over at Main Street Annex. Sadly missing now is Random Row Books; we’re looking forward to seeing who will fill that void for scrappy DIY shows and parties. For post-show decompression, the C&O is one of our favorite spots for grabbing a drink and cooling heels in the wee hours.

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Any other Cville favorites?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We also need to give Alloy Workshop a huge shout-out. We use part of their space for rehearsal, and their hospitality is infinite and fantastic. Have them handle your design/build or renovation!

What local musician(s) you are most excited about?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): Especially considering how small Charlottesville is, population-wise, it’s crazy how much great stuff is going on musically here, all the time. Most recently, we’ve been totally digging on Red and the Romantics, Sally Rose, Chamomile and Whiskey, John D’earth. Our sound is diverse and we’re ready to rock with everyone!

What local music projects are you/have you been involved in?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice):  We’ve all played in bands, here and elsewhere. Locally speaking, Tristan currently provides thunder for Jolie Fille, a raucous cajun/punk outfit. Aly toured with Baaba Seth for a stretch, and Lauren spent some time with The Hill and Wood.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We all have music in our bones, and have had it as part of our lives since childhood.

Minh: I got my chops playing piano in church, country bands, Dixieland bands, modern pop, but this project is certainly the most original and rewarding adventure I’ve had.

Tristan: I started playing when I was 15.  Joined a band two weeks later, and have been in a band ever since.

Lewis: I’ve played guitar and other strings since age 10, played in bands from 15 onward. Minh’s dead right: this band is an exceptionally grand time in every possible way.

Lauren: I came out of my Momma’s womb singing.  My Mother encouraged us kids to make neighborhood parades either barefoot or in our jelly shoes and I got my flutophone, melodica, harmonica, and tambourine on.  I started piddling on the piano then, too, but it was too big to drag down the street.  Mrs. Dineff introduced me to the flute in fourth grade and I am currently cultivating a relationship with the concert ukulele.

Gene: I used to play bamboo flute in the drainage pipes and the tunnels of upstate New York. t was then that the angels started downloading songs into my mind. No joke.

Aly: I was 5 when I first picked up the trumpet.  My mom plays french horn and she had an old army band trumpet in a case in her sewing room.  I went to her concerts and rehearsals alot with the Charlottesville Municipal Band when I was little, and my parents played nothing but classical music every night during dinner. My mom also taught aerobics classes through Parks and Rec, and I would go with her and hang around, and that’s when I heard alot of Michael Jackson, Deep Purple and The Who.  I have always loved the sound and the melodic power of the trumpet and started playing every day when I was 8 and in the fourth grade at Johnson School; back in the day when kids started band in elementary school.  I tried french horn for a week or so in 5th grade, but trumpet is way cooler. And not as heavy to lug around.

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We’re pretty eclectic as far as individual influences go, and we’d say that’s a major strength for the band.

Lewis: I won’t shut up bout Led Zeppelin, probably ever. I’m all over map, elsewise…Beach House, Death From Above 1979, Beirut, Bowie, Mogwai.

Minh: Death Cab, Lone Bellow, Pink Floyd

Tristan: Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Black Sabbath, Buzzcocks

Lauren:  Classical music, Boyz II Men, Ella & Louis, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Damien Rice, Asylum Street Spankers, Ben Sollee, Dark Dark Dark and I am presently sweet on Andrew Bird

Gene: I listen to classical indian music constantly. Somehow this sound finds its way into pop. How? Ask me!

Aly: I don’t really have 1 influential artist.  I love so many.  Aaron Copeland, Bach, Verdi, Bizet, Shostakovitch, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Michael Jackson, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sepultura, Led Zeppelin,Megadeath, Primus, Green Day, Cake, Wilco, Rafael Mendez, Dolly Parton, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tina Turner, James Brown, Parliament, Charlie Parker, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Etc., etc., etc.  As a child, I listened to classical music.  In high school I was exposed to Jazz, latin, heavy metal, and rock.  In college, I learned what a chord was and it blew my mind.  Through jazz and learning improvisation from John D’earth and the Uva and VCU’s Jazz Orchestras, I discovered Ska, reggae, big band, world beat, and R&B. All of these people and experiences influence my playing today.  As an adult, I am really digging Trombone Shorty, Grace Potter, Andrew Bird, Mariachi, rodrigo y gabriela.

When did you write your first song? What was it about?

Gene: I wrote my first song on the back of bus en-rout to a soccer game. It was about beards. I love that song and remember it note for note.

What influences your writing?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): Gene: I downloads messages from the angels inside his head. I’m a victim to the craft of songwriting. If I could help it, I would have never given up knitting.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We will defer to Gene on this one. Gene?

Gene: All good pop and rock should be about both sex and death.

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): That is correct.

Aly: For some reason, my best horn lines and solos come out of having been recently frustrated or pissed off about something.  But, in general, I am fueled and inspired by my 2 year old daughter, my family and friends, my business and other creative and down to earth people.  And food.  Food is awesome.

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Courtesy of We Are Star Children

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice):  Everyone’s a little different, but we’d say we all get a blend of adrenaline and jitters here and there. From the first seconds of the first set, though, we’re feeling the audience dig into the songs with us, and it’s like we’ve lifted off and are cruising. We live for the live shows: they’re so much fun.

What does a day in the life of a modern-day songwriter look like from your perspective?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): What a great question. There’s definitely no single shape that a songwriter takes at this point. As you know from the first question, all of us maintain full lives outside of the band, but we don’t know if it’s as simple as life “inside” vs. “outside.” We live and breathe music as much as we do love and work and family, and all of the joys and stresses that go along with these. Songwriting is how we the chaos.

What do you want people to take from hearing your music? As a fan, what do you also want people to take from experiencing your live show?

Gene: Our releases to date were recorded, mixed, and produced locally, and we hope that this is as inspiring to others as it has been to us.

Minh: I hope that fans leave our shows feeling elated.  The band/fan interaction is a large piece of a great show.  We are not a ‘sit on your hands’ kinda band and when the crowd gets going, it’s contagious.

Aly: When I go to a show, I want to hear good songs and instrumental parts that groove. Musicians who take themselves too seriously are boring to watch.  So, I wanna put on a show that I personally would pay money for a ticket to go see.  I want people who listen to our music to hear that we genuinely love what we are doing and just want to put forth fun, good and creative music into the world.   I also want our music to be what folks listen to on a long drive in the car.  And for those who come to our live show, they should leave sweaty and smiling.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for the band?

Shrouded Narrator/Star-Hive-Mind (In David Attenborough’s Voice): We have several fun shows lined up  for the fall and early winter: here in town, in Keswick for the Castle Hill Cider Festival, The Bayou in D.C., and The Clementine in Harrisonburg. Also, we have a bunch of new material in the wings, and are looking forward to getting those songs down on tape.

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

Blind Train Riding Chaos through Pop Convention. We’re from Stars!

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